It's a tanker desk with extra security. How do I remove the security for esthetic reasons?
April 7, 2010 3:00 PM   Subscribe

I've got this metal thing on my metal desk. How do I get it off?

Here's a picture of it. It's one of those locks that was installed for extra security. I got the desk for nothing and it came with it but it's starting to scratch it up pretty bad. And I'd just like it off.

What's a way I can get this off without damaging the desk?

Or much anyway.
posted by rileyray3000 to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
The things that look like un-slotted screws are called rivets. The way to remove them is to grind them off. You can use a Dremel tool with a reinforced grinding disc to remove them. They will each take a bit of grinding.

After you grind off all the rivet heads (the domed parts) or the tails (the opposite side of the rivets), the metal thing will just fall off. Your desk will be undamaged, save for the holes drilled to install the rivets.
posted by fake at 3:10 PM on April 7, 2010

How to Remove Rivets
posted by royalsong at 3:10 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could try using vice grips to grab the rivet heads and unscrew them. My uncle was able to to do that on rivets on the anti-robbery bars on our front door.
posted by sulaine at 3:37 PM on April 7, 2010

Have you tried opening the drawers? This looks like a security bar that unlocks by sliding the large tab at the top upwards and rotating the bar away from the drawers. Once the drawers are open you'll have access to the attaching mechanism. I doubt if you'll need to remove the rivets.
posted by Hilbert at 4:24 PM on April 7, 2010

Those are definitely rivets. In general, there's nothing that unscrews on a rivet, so I don't know what sulaine's uncle did. Sometimes you can use a pair of vice grips to crush the head of the rivet, making it possible to then pound it through with a hammer. But, on thin sheet metal like your desk, I don't know that I'd do that. It generally requires a fair amount of beating.

I removed several dozen rivets last summer while refurbishing a boat. I started out using the Dremel-then-drill method suggested in royalsong's link. But I soon found that the Dremeling step is totally unnecessary. Just a drill will do wonderfully.

Start with a drill bit just slightly larger in diameter than the hole going through the rivet. Drill through the head of the rivet--something like 1/8" to 1/4". Now, take a pair of pliers and squeeze the head. If it breaks off, push the rivet out through the back and you're done. Otherwise, drill again with a slightly larger drill bit. I usually moved up in 1/32" or 1/64" increments, unless I knew the size of the hole, in which case I just used that sized bit.
posted by Netzapper at 4:31 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I came in to suggest just drilling them out with reinforced bits, but it looks like that's already been covered. At the very least, you'll just have small holes in you desk.
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:46 PM on April 7, 2010

I will third just drilling out the rivets, no grinding needed. Do it on the hollow back side, if you can reach, there will be much less material to remove. Once you've got the back gone, grab the front with pliers and twist and pull till it's gone. Works a treat, and in this case you don't care about scratching the finish of the surrounding metal, because that's going, too.
posted by agentofselection at 6:51 PM on April 7, 2010

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